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FISH 521 Proposal Writing. Workplan. General issues I ntroduction. General structure What is the broader issue? What is known? Where are the gaps? What can you do about it ? Link to your specific objectives Leave details for rationale Funnel the reader towards the aims and objectives

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general issues i ntroduction
General issuesIntroduction
  • General structure
    • What is the broader issue?
    • What is known?
    • Where are the gaps?
    • What can you do about it?
      • Link to your specific objectives
  • Leave details for rationale
    • Funnel the reader towards the aims and objectives
    • Focus on that aim
    • Highlight important points
  • Show graphs or tables
    • Summarize information
    • Break up text
  • Include references
  • Consider what should be in the intro
    • Sometimes the significance of a proposal becomes only clear in the rationale
general issues objectives
General issues: objectives
  • Link between introduction and objectives
    • Do not introduce new concepts or issues in the objectives
    • Objectives should flow naturally from the introduction
  • Overall aim of the study
    • Without aim, it looks incoherent and piecemeal
  • Build objectives on issues, not methods
      • List 1
        • Assign parentage of salmon in two creeks
        • Estimate reproductive success of immigrants
        • Estimate effective population size
      • List 2
        • Correlate reproductive success with habitat, phenotype and population origin
        • Quantify the effect of bear predation and run size on the effective number of breeders
  • Consider broader impact in objectives
    • Need to be introduced too (why important ?)
    • Can be added later
general issue on writing
General issue on writing
  • Avoid redundancy
    • Sections, paragraphs, sentences
  • Be concise and specific
    • Delete words that mean little or nothing
    • Delete words that repeat the meaning of other words
    • Delete words the reader can infer
      • E.g during that period of time, the membrane area became pink in color and shiny in appearance
  • Avoid nominalization and empty verbs
    • If you have ‘make’, ‘perform’, ‘carry out’ as a verb, check if you can use something more descriptive.
  • Don’t use informal colloquialisms
    • ‘look at’
    • Contractions: don’t, isn’t etc
    • We will assess how a affects b
      • Not incorrect but awkward and informal
  • Tense
    • Be consistent
reviewing 3 aspects
Reviewing: 3 aspects
  • Big picture stuff
    • What is the overarching issue?
    • How will the project address that issue?
    • How will the project advance science in general?
  • Overall organization
    • Are you being guided towards a specific goal?
    • Is there extraneous or missing information?
    • Could the section be structured better?
  • Word tinkering
    • Paragraph structure
    • Sentence structure
    • Edit in Word
  • Consider rules outlined here
nsf format
NSF format
  • Title
  • Project Summary
  • Project description (10 pages, 15 for NSF)
    • Introduction & background (why?)
      • Significance statement in book
      • Aims and objectives
    • Rationale and scope (background)
      • Progress to date
      • Can end in hypotheses
    • Research management plan (how?)
      • Sampling and analyses
      • Interpretation
    • Contributions to education and human resources
    • Intellectual Merit and Broader Impact
  • References
  • Biographical Sketches
  • Budget and budget justification
  • Current and pending support
  • Facilities, equipment and other resources
the work plan
The Work Plan
  • Primarily targeted at reviewers
  • Objective
    • To convince the reader that objectives can be accomplished
      • (NB: Not to reproduce experiment)
  • Primary questions
    • Best methods to address objectives?
    • Methods established and cited?
      • Can be new, but needs explanation and preliminary data (could be in rationale)
    • Feasible given time and funding?
    • Expertise of investigators
    • Outcomes
  • How much detail?
    • Not too much to lose track of objectives, but enough to allow assessment of feasibility
      • Sample sizes
        • # sample sites
        • # samples / site
        • # analyses / sample
      • Experimental procedures
        • Time & money required
    • Depends on ubiquity of methods
      • If established, just cite
      • If not, need description and preliminary data
  • Make sure your methods can address the objectives
    • May be useful to consider in a separate section
      • Expected results
two primary structures
Research Plan I

Overview of Research Plan

Materials and Methods


Field Methods

Laboratory Procedures

Data Analysis

Interpretation and Expected Results

Research Plan II

Objective 1

Materials & Methods


Objective 2

Materials & Methods


Objective 3

Materials & Methods


Two primary structures
  • Choice depends primarily on overlap in methods between objectives
    • II can be very effective, but tedious when repetitive
the timeline
The timeline
  • Reality check
    • Things always take longer than you think they should
    • Be realistic
      • ‘Overambitious’ is one of the most damning comments
  • Best graphically
    • Provide narrative in legend
panel exercises
Panel exercises
  • Big picture stuff
    • What is the greatest contribution of your project for scientists
      • Inside your field
      • Outside your field
    • How will your project advance
      • The state of the science (basic science)
      • The state of a resource/species (applied)
    • Consider both theoretical and empirical contribution
  • Discuss you introduction & rationale
    • Should anything be moved, added or left out?
      • Identify repetitions and gaps
      • Funnel, focus and highlight